Returning To The World

Kage Baker always thought the return to the world after New Year’s was much the hardest journey of the year.

You’ve just been through a long period of happy indulgence, family time, eating and drinking too much, sleeping in: whatever mild excess makes you happy, you’ve probably been doing it for the last fortnight. No large holidays are looming on the holiday; some nice reasons to eat chocolate, but nothing that keeps you home. Presidents’  Day often yields a 3-day holiday, but the glee is somewhat undermined – Valentine’s Day is not joyous for everyone, and Presidents’ Day itself is a fake holiday made up by people who desperately wanted an extra day to sell us stuff. For those of us who just want an extra day off, that’s not too bad, really.

And as Kage said, “I may not have a Valentine every year, but I can always force myself to eat chocolate hearts – just to show willing.” And she was, as Dickens said, as good as her word.

Being, as I am, semi-retired and self-employed when I do anything at all, days on or off are largely symbolic for me. Kage reached this point in her last couple of years, and was delighted to do so. Working at her writing from her desk by the sea-gazing window in the living room was exactly the niche she wanted. But there is always the Outside World waiting to intrude upon the cloistered author; the rhythms of the rest of humanity just won’t stay put or away.

Theoretically, tomorrow I start Jury Duty. Actually checking on the Jury Site for Los Angeles Superior Court reveals that, no – I don’t have to find my way downtown to report in: but they’re tracking every time I sign in on the site (the City of Los Angeles thoughtfully assigns jurors special user names and passwords to facilitate this), and they Know Where I Am. At least, they were at pains to tell me that they know whether or not I do check in every 24 hours. And if I don’t, a bench warrant will be issued for me.

I don’t mind performing my jury duty. I do rather mind being threatened as a matter of course; no carrot at all, just the assumption that I’m an irresponsible scofflaw and the Law is ready to deal sternly with me. It’s annoying.

Also annoying is that knitting needles are prohibited from being brought to the Courthouse. That does mean, of course, that the Court system has taken a good look at knitting needles, and realized that a lot of people are running around with matched stilettos in their bags – something the airline industry has not noticed, thank all the spindle-bearing goddesses. I suppose I should be glad that my city’s government has shown a modicum of common sense in outlawing dangerous textile instruments – the amount of harm that spinning, weaving and knitting have brought to the Halls of Power is documented in many folk stories, from Penelope to Sleeping Beauty.

It pisses me off, though. My knitting has been dreadfully neglected this last year, and I am scrupulously trying to get back in gear on it. I shall have to content myself with knitting in the evenings as I sit on the couch, I guess, since I can’t knit and do my civic duty at the same time … at least they don’t forbid Kindles, or paper and pen.

If they ever actually call me in, I can at least read and write. Therein lies salvation.  It still pisses me off, though. It’s all part of having to admit that I do still live in the world, and I have to make plans and allowances for it. I’ve been spoiled.

But on the theory that I should at least turn some of this responsible energy to home use, I’ve tidied up the computer desktop; all the recipes, patterns and story notes I’ve accumulated are now vetted and stored in appropriate folders, so I can find them and work on them. It’s inconvenient to be searching for my notes on khipus and somehow keep finding a pattern for a knitted bowl in which to keep a cat …

Next step will be my literal desktop – time to sort out the toys, old envelopes, the last 4 year’s worth of calendars (in their boxes), scrunchies, candies, pipe cleaners, jewellery and amusing junk mail and actually locate the top of the desk.

Thus does the world sweep us back into the tidal race of the days. A simple desire to avoid a bench warrant has seduced me into cleaning up my work space. As Sweet William says, “Thus does conscience make cowards of us all.”

Mars is glaring at me; so is Australia, a tally of Incan beans and a chorus of blue squirrels … my snow cave has melted, and it’s time to do some real work.



About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to Returning To The World

  1. buggybite says:

    I hope you have a very good year, Kathleen, now that your health issues have improved. And who knows? Jury duty just might yield interesting fodder for stories …names changed to protect the innocent and guilty, of course. I’d forget the knitting needles and just take along a fat notebook and a couple of pens. And keep your ears and eyes peeled. Truth is often more interesting than fiction.


    • Kate says:

      People watching is always one of my favourite sources of ideas. And there are few places as good for people watching as the courts in downtown Los Angeles.


  2. Jill Hand says:

    They threaten you with arrest if you don’t show up for jury duty. How charming. I’m just loving this great, big beautiful tomorrow that we’re living in.


    • buggybite says:

      Enquiring minds want to know. What happens if you don’t have an online connection and can’t report in to their website every day? Can you be arrested for not having a computer or smartphone? ?????


      • Kate says:

        The jury summons here in Los Angeles includes both the website URL and a phone number. You can also call in daily (from an ordinary phone), and get a recording telling you what to do; in fact, that used to be the only way to check in. And that, too, is recorded so they can track your attendance. But you don’t need a computer for access; though if you want to do it online, there are computers available at every Public Library.


    • Kate says:

      It may differ from state to state, but in California this has been the status quo for my whole life. If you ignore he jury duty summons, you get a bench warrant issued. Since the system does allow for excuses and postponements, I guess they figure it’s the only way to make sure anyone at all shows up. I don’t understand that …


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